Is it possible to be both happy and disappointed?
I can’t fault the effort or attitude of our Eels. With this team I have come to trust and expect such effort, but I now want more than that.
So what more do I want?
In my view Melbourne won the big moments. As a team we have to be like them. We have to start making the right decisions in the big moments.
Those important kicks, those important catches, those important defensive set of six, we have to win those moments and at the present time, in big games, we don’t win enough of them.
The thing is you have to be in big games to learn how to win them.
I hear people talking about BA and our team’s record in the finals. Under BA we have played 5 and won 1. Three of the four defeats have been against Melbourne away.
Well, how’s this for a record? Melbourne have lost only two home finals matches in the past 8 years. The Eels are not alone.
BA and our leaders have a big job. Parra needs to back up, and more importantly play smart.
Injuries may have been a factor during the Storm match but they cannot become an excuse going into the next game against the Bunnies. There are many sore bodies but it is what it is. Sore bodies are a part of football life, and the team must lift this week.
Melbourne deserved the win. I don’t like them, I don’t consider them a champion team as I cannot go past the lack of sportsmanship and terrible tactics they demonstrate on the field. But I must acknowledge that they were better than the Eels at exposing weaknesses.
The Eels inability to turn momentum hurts them. Too many times Parra let in quick back to back tries. Champion teams don’t do that. I think the solution rests with being cut throat with recruitment, retention and junior development. Whoever is brought into the squad every year must help to drive a winning mentality.
Lazy markers hurt Parra at crucial times against Melbourne. If you cannot be trusted in the most crucial moment to do your job, to push through the pain barrier, you cannot be involved in finals football. Given that finals footy is every team’s goal, there is little point in having such players at the club. It might explain why some won’t be a part of the Eels going forward.
But it’s not just Parra that needs to lift its game in the finals series.
The finals might be played at home grounds or home cities of teams, but they are NRL staged events. Any advantage to one team should end with the benefit of playing closer to home in front of potentially more of their supporters.
So why do the NRL allow Melbourne to keep their opposition waiting on the field for an extended period after they have obviously been given the instruction to leave their sheds?
Before a ball is kicked off the Storm are allowed to control what happens and when it happens.
If an NRL official is not game enough to knock on the door and tell them to get out on the field when instructed, it is little wonder that the referee on the field struggles to control them.
Another issue is the standard of the finals referees. For mine, the root of this issue lies in he development of referees. Can you name an up and coming referee?
Under Mr Sutton and head of football Mr Annesley, we should expect to see young referees coming through the ranks, with a goal of developing better finals referees. I honestly cannot name one.
I work in upper management in my job with about 18 middle managers under my control. My middle managers are doing a good job when they create the right environment for their staff to grow and develop skills.
When the staff under their control get a promotion they are doing a good job.
Young referees in the NRL are not promoted. If we see a new face it’s on “nothing games” and then there’s the likelihood of being thrown under the bus on an almost weekly occurrence at Mr Annesley’s briefings.
They are not given opportunities.
Instead we have a boys club that rewards and protects yes men. The fact that Atkins, Cummins, Klein and Sutton were judged the four best referees for the finals is both the start and end of the problem.
What Mr Klein dished up on Saturday was embarrassing but not at all unforeseen. Experienced they may be, but fair, well respected, experienced referees were overlooked and have been overlooked all season.
I could accept older referees being overlooked if young up and coming referees were selected.
Instead referees who have been tried and failed many times before were once again given the chance.
They say the fish rots from the head. I don’t want another review conducted of the referee system. Maybe what needs to be reviewed is the officials, the managers who set up and oversee the entire process. Maybe the problem is at the head of that NRL fish.
Enough of the negative. There’s still footy left in this season for the Eels.
I cannot wait for next week. I was a little deflated on Saturday night and then on Sunday morning I saw Junior’s social media message and felt excited.
Thank you Junior. I will back our boys.
I am not ignorant to our issues. Like most of you I know them all too well but my team is still in the fight. I know they are going to give their all and so will I. I cannot make any tackles for them but I can give them my unconditional support. Good luck boys, play well.
This game is as big as our opening of the stadium game. Be there Blue and Gold Army. Join us in cheering loudly for our boys.
You never know, we might even pressure the referee into giving us a 6 again that is not on the first or second tackle!